A St. Louis County grand jury has decided not to indict Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson on any criminal charges in the Aug. 9 shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown.
The nationally televised announcement is the climax to a story that has captivated the nation and amplified racial tensions, with fierce clashes between protesters and police in a majority black town with a largely white police force. The incident and its aftermath resurfaced America’s long complicated history with race, violence, and law enforcement.
St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch began the announcement with a detailed explanation of the investigation, at times criticizing the media’s “insatiable appetite” in following the case and “non-stop rumors on social media.”
“The duty of the grand jury is to separate fact from fiction,” he said. “They are the only people who have heard and examined every witness and every piece of evidence.”
“No true bill” is legalese for when a grand jury does not deliver an indictment. So the only indictment stemming from this incident is against “the social media.” Somehow I don’t think that’s going to mollify anyone.
To a lot of people, this ruling was a study in foregone conclusions: the fix was in. No jury in Missouri was about to indict a white police officer for shooting a black man, or even if they did, he would be exonerated at trial, given his job back, and life would go on. Nothing to see here, folks; let’s move along.
And of course you would expect to see rioting and looting because there are certain elements who just don’t understand the rule of law; they’re never happy with the way things work out even if the authorities say they did everything they possibly could to insure a fair hearing.
The only reason anyone would think the fix was in is because it has been for so long we’ve come to expect nothing less. It isn’t just a regional thing; Missouri or California; St. Louis or Seattle, we have seen it time and again where it looks to all the world as if minorities get the short — and often brutal — end of the stick of justice doled out by the authorities.
Prosecutor McCulloch said last night that only the grand jury had seen all the evidence presented in the case of Michael Brown so only they could be the ones who knew the whole story of the incident in Ferguson last August. That may easily be; we are told time and again by lawyers and Ted Danson on “CSI” that you go where the evidence leads you and that the facts never lie. But they don’t always tell the whole story, and searching for scapegoats like “the social media” only adds to the frustration and anger at a system that seems to only care about keeping up appearances.
A lot more people with a lot more experience in the law and social justice will have a lot more to say about this. All I can say now is that no matter what anyone says, it cannot take away from the feeling that evidence and testimony in a grand jury hearing don’t explain why thousands of people from all walks of life and every race in hundreds of cities in every part of this country feel that justice has not been served.